It's that time of year again. Students are returning to colleges across the nation with a new freshman class. Which means the annual college freshman mindset list from Beloit College is out—always a cultural eye-opener in terms of changing times.
As the authors observe, the new millennium belongs to this year's entering-college class of 2022. For this year's freshmen, human beings have always been living – not just traveling – in space. The United States has always had a military presence in Afghanistan. Same-sex marriage has always been legal somewhere. And the once revolutionary "You've got mail" is almost forgotten.
I've picked a few of my favorites from Beloit College's 60-point list. And remember, students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 2000.
- They are the first class born in the new millennium, escaping the dreaded label of "Millennial," though their new designation – iGen, Gen Z, etc. – has not yet been agreed upon by them.
- Outer space has never been without human habitation.
- They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
- They have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their school, too.
- People loudly conversing with themselves in public are no longer thought to be talking to imaginary friends.
- Calcutta has always been Kolkata.
- Afghanistan has always been the frustrating quagmire that keeps on giving.
- Investigative specials examining the O.J. Simpson case have been on TV annually since their birth.
- Same-sex couples have always found marital bliss in the Netherlands.
- When filling out forms, they are not surprised to find more than two gender categories to choose from.
- Presidents winning the popular vote and then losing the election are not unusual.
- Parents have always been watching "Big Brother" and vice versa.
- They've grown up with stories about where their grandparents were on 11/22/63 and where their parents were on 9/11.
- They will never fly TWA, Swissair or Sabena airlines.
- There has never been an Enron.
- The Prius has always been on the road in the U.S.
- They never used a spit bowl in a dentist's office.
- There has always been a "Survivor."
- "You've got mail" would sound as ancient to them as "number, please" would have sounded to their parents.
- Mifepristone or RU-486, commonly called the "abortion pill," has always been available in the U.S.
- A visit to a bank has been a rare event.
- They have never had to deal with "chads," be they dimpled, hanging or pregnant.
- "Bipartisan" is soooo last century.
- Robert Downey Jr. has always been the sober Iron Man.
- "I Love You" has always been a computer virus.
- Robots have always been able to walk on two legs and climb stairs.
- There have always been space tourists willing to pay the price.
- Mass market books have always been available exclusively as ebooks.
- "Oprah" has always been a magazine.
- Google Doodles have never recognized major religious holidays.
- Donny and Marie who?
- Films have always been distributed on the Internet.
James Emery White
"The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2022," Beloit College, themindsetlist.com.